Budget should address inequality among people

Lilongwe: Oxfam has said this year’s budget should address issues of inequality and increase prosperity among all people if the country is to move forward.

Oxfam Interim Country Director, Lingalireni Mihowa made the observation Thursday during a Budget Analyst dinner with members of Budget Parliamentary Committee of Parliament at Sunbird Lilongwe Hotel in Lilongwe.

She said her origination under took a consultancy in 2015 to see how the country’s budget addresses issues of inequality among people in key development sectors.

Mihowa said that the trends for the past three years are showing that there are gaps and issues of inequality among people are increasing and there is need to address them.

We looked at three sector of education , health and agriculture where we noted a lot of gaps that very few people are being assisted although the country presents very beautiful budget documents aim at improving the sector, the Interim Director pointed out.

She said the country is stuck in a deadlock of slow growth which is unequally distributed where poverty and inequality are two faces of the same coin.

Mihowa explained that economic equally is growing significantly and in just seven year period between 2004 to 2011, the gap the richest is 10 per cent of Malawians and the poorest 40 per cent increased by almost third.

If inequality continues to rise as it has in recent years, by 2020 over 1.5 million Malawians will be poor. Even rapid economic growth will fail to tackle poverty in the country, she pointed out.

He Interim Director believes that government should not leave no one behind and get on truck to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it must commit to policies which prevent the country’s elite from appropriating the benefits of economic growth.

She suggested that government should ensure that benefits are redistributed to all.

Breaking out of slow and unequal growth requires government, decision makers , development partners and institutions to work for the citizens especially for those living at the margins, rather than serving powerful vested interests within and outside the country, Mihowa noted.

The Consultant who is also Executive Director of Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), Dalitso Kubalasa said government has operationalized the 2018-2019 budget with the new Malawi Development Growth Strategy (MDGS)III in order to address some of the inequalities being highlighted in the report.

He observed that after 54 years of independence the country still has the challenges on how to address issues of poverty and inequality among its people.

Government should look at the challenges being highlighted in order to come up with best practices in order to reverse the situation for the betterment of the people’s well being in the country, Kubalasa pointed out.

Chairperson of the Budget Committee, Rhino Chiphiko noted that this year’s budget is not a development budget but a campaign budget which is aiming to foster development needs.

He said as a committee there is nothing they can do influence changes in the budget in order to address issue of inequality that have been highlighted in the report.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA